At the end of the last journal entry, Austin was on the phone with hotels.com. Again. And I had just discovered ants in our hotel room! I didn't get a chance to update the journal again until the next evening:
Friday 29 June 2012
Wow! Long break between journaling on a day when A LOT happened! Let me explain, no there is too much. Let me sum up:
We spent about an hour and a half looking for a different hotel, and ended up finding an amazing deal on a Melia! (You'll remember we stayed at a Melia in Cozumel in 2009) Unfortunately that deal was on hotels4you.com and was more than a thousand dollars less than Hotels.com's price. We were afraid that Hotels.com wouldn't back us up with our cancellation at Sol Y Mar if we booked through someone else, so we booked on Hotels.com hoping they would do a price match. Hotels.com really didn't like the idea of a price match in excess of $1,000, but they let us cancel that booking, honored their cancellation assistance, and gave us $250 for our trouble, and we booked the Melia through the other site.
Throughout this whole process we spent a considerable amount of time on the phone with Hotels.com - always calling their international collect number. This is important later in the story.
We headed to reception to check out (probably one of the shortest recorded hotel stays in history!), and the desk manager looked at our charges (we knew we would have to pay for Internet time), and his eyebrows shot up to about his hairline.
"You made many International calls?" He asked us.
We explained that we had called an international collect number, but apparently they registered in the hotel's system as international calls - running up a bill of more than $450 in international phone charges!
I sat on those ^^^ steps and cried while Austin attempted to Skype Hotels.com from the iPad. He managed to connect long enough to ask someone to call the hotel, then he explained the problem and e-mailed them a picture of the bill (which thankfully detailed the number proving that it wasn't our error). They promised to reimburse us in full. We paid the bill and walked out to the street (past the guard shack) to hail a taxi.
The guard helped us flag down a taxi and we got into the cab of the first driver who would accept 30 E.£ to take us to our new hotel, the Melia Sinai.
At one point the driver got a phone call, then a short time later we were pulling over in a more residential area next to three of his Bedouin buddies. (I don't know if they were actually Bedouin, I just like the alliteration.) He stopped the taxi, handed one of the three - who were peering into the back seat at us through the open passenger-side window and smiling creepily at us - a plastic grocery sack. At that point he suggested that we switch from his marked blue and white taxi to a large white van that was parked there. Austin said an unequivocal, "No!", and, in spite of the driver's best persuasion attempts, insisted that we move on to the hotel right away.
Notwithstanding that frightening episode, we made it to our new hotel safely (holding the door locks locked the whole way)! And in time for dinner!
We checked in, called the dive center to inform them of our hotel change, met the very friendly reception staff, and were shown to our beautiful room. We dropped off our stuff and hurried to dinner, which was light years away from the lunch we experienced at Sol Y Mar.
Unpacking and getting settled in went very well, and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening - even though we had a few engineering hiccups (this is Egypt). We visited the bar and caught part of the EuroCup game - Germany played very poorly and ended up losing, we found out in the morning - which was being projected onto the side of the hotel next to one of the pools!
Upon returning to the room for the final time, we showered and readied for bed. I fell asleep in the shower and could barely get myself into bed. I definitely slept through the engineering crew that came to fix our air-conditioning.
This morning (Friday), we rose bright and early, ate breakfast, picked up our sack lunches from reception and went out to meet the bus with all of our scuba gear (Austin did have to run back to the room with a maintenance man to get the lock/key situation figured out and to close our room safe), and enjoyed the air-conditioned bus ride to Emperor Divers dive center.
There you have it! Finally in a great hotel and ready to start an incredible vacation!
See you next time!